By PAUL GESSELL
Ukraine is definitely in the news these days. And Easter is just a few weeks away. So, an exhibition of paintings of Ukrainian Easter eggs is most timely.
Such an exhibition can be seen at the Glebe restaurant Urban Pear. The artist is Diane Woodward, whose obsession with bright colours and bold patterns is legendary, not just in her art, but in her Technicolour clothing and unorthodox taste in home decorating.
Woodward used to be a regular fixture in the Ottawa art scene. Then she moved to Madoc, where her home – an art project itself — became a tourist site because of all the wild colours not usually seen outside a movie version of Alice in Wonderland.
With the move to Madoc, Woodward’s profile in Ottawa began to slip. But now she is back with a vengeance with three planned shows at Urban Pear during the next six months.
First up is the exhibition titled Diane Woodward’s Easter Egg Hunt. Woodward’s paintings fill one long wall at Urban Pear. Most of the paintings contain images of intricately designed Ukrainian Easter eggs in the most vibrant of colours. In some of the paintings, the eggs are the primary subject. In others, the eggs are something of an after-thought. And, of course, you can’t have a Woodward exhibition without some zebras. I counted three zebra paintings. But I wasn’t wearing sunglasses, so I might have missed some craftily hidden beasts lurking among the high-beam colours.
My favourite is called Why I Became a Ventriloquist. This acrylic on canvas shows a parrot and a frog posed with some Easter eggs. It’s the kind of brainteasing painting that invites viewers to create their own narrative. I’m still working on it. This is a painting that will never become boring.
The most political painting is one called Fragile. It depicts a Ukrainian soldier, whose helmet is painted to look like an Easter egg. If you support Ukraine these days, grab the restaurant table by that painting and eat your way through the Urban Pear menu to show your solidarity.
Two other Ottawa-area artists besides Woodward will be exhibiting at Urban Pear in the coming months: Next up is Victoria Henry, the head of the Canada Council Art Bank who will be showcasing photos she took in India; the third artist in the Urban Pear stable is Rosemary Kralik, an artist who is also famous for raising Tibetan yaks, who politicians’ portraits, does figure studies, and produces erotic art as well. Exact schedules are still being worked out.
Woodward’s current show continues at Urban Pear, 151 Second Ave., until April 20, with a chance that it may extend for a week beyond that date.